PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to form and send medical teams to Haiti to assist in the relief operations following Wednesday's earthquake that killed some 100,000 people.

Arroyo, during the inauguration of the Caticlan Airport in Aklan, said she also instructed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to place on standby a contingency of reserve peacekeepers that would be sent to Haiti when needed or called upon by the United States, which is organizing an aid mission.

Arroyo said this is the only way the Philippines could return all the aid and assistance it received when the country was struck by recent calamities like typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, Reming and Frank.

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She said Filipinos suffered much when the recent typhoons hit the country, killing thousands, and she cannot imagine how much more suffering the Haiti people are experiencing after losing about a hundred thousand lives to the quake.

"We are more than ready to give a helping hand as we were victims ourselves - Ondoy, Pepeng and Frank - and a few months ago about a year ago, we have also been a recipient of international assistance, now it is our turn to the give back," she said.

Arroyo also acknowledged the Filipino peacekeepers in Haiti who, despite being victims themselves after the United Nation headquarters they were staying collapsed, continue to assist others.

The President said she would give medals and other awards to the Filipino peacekeepers in Haiti when they return to the country to show the government's gratitude and appreciation of their loyalty to their duties.

"It is especially close to our hearts because we have peacekeeping troops in Haiti who are doing a good job. To once again rise to the occasion, we have risen to the ocassions here in the Philipinnes each time, so we will give them medals when they return," she added.

The Philippines initially sent a consular team from Cuba headed by ambassador Macarthur Corsino to assist the Filipinos in Haiti.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said latest report they got said that all of the police and military contingent had been accounted for except for the four who was trapped inside the UN headquarters.

Remonde said one of the four soldiers have already been rescued and there is a big possibility that the other three are still alive.

"The only thing to do is clear the rubble to get to them," he said.

Remonde also extended the Philippines' sympathies for the Haiti people, citing there are fears that the death toll may even reach 500,000 in the coming days.

"Heaven forbid that a similar tragedy should befall the Philippines. However, if it does, our National Disaster Coordinating Council is at a level of preparedness to meet that contingency," he assured.

He added that disaster preparedness program has been put in place at the national, provincial, municipal, and barangay levels. The program is expected to help "save thousands of lives" when the time comes. (JMR/Sunnex)